'There are twelve hours in the day, aren't there?' That's a more literal translation of the first part of verse 9 in John 11, a small part of the text for this Sunday. It's a question given by Jesus with an expected 'yes' answer.
Obviously there are more important issues, like a man who has been dead for four days--enough to make him stink--comes back to life. But Jesus' question hit me a little harder this year. Perhaps it was because it's April 1st on this Sabbath day, known to many modern cultures as April Fool's Day. I'm not sure what is all behind that, but that doesn't really matter.
So my first thought to Jesus' question was, no, of course not, there AREN'T twelve hours in a day; there are TWENTY-FOUR!
It's interesting how we count the hours. We count ALL the hours. Centuries ago, they counted only the daylight hours, and then they divided them into twelve parts. Having a sundial would help determine how long an hour would be.
Just the thought of having twenty-four hours in the day instead of twelve can be very relieving. You might think, 'I have a lot of time to get this done.' But that's not always true.
I have written this in the past, but it's even more appropriate with this text from the Gospel according to John, that what is done by human hands really comes from the Lord's blessing and not from our ability to do something because, according to our judgment, there were enough things on our part.
Would it have been nice to see Lazarus come out of the grave on that day? A better question might be this: What does Jesus say in response to Thomas' confession of the Risen Christ? Thomas was saying that, unless he saw Jesus, he wouldn't believe.
Jesus says, 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe (John 20:29).' There are many people who are being blessed because of those few words. It's much the same thing in Baptism, Confession, and the Lord's Supper.
It's important to remember that blessing is not a feeling. It's not a miracle you can see. Dr. Luther emphasized this many times that the Apostles' Creed says, 'I believe in the ... resurrection of the body; I believe ... in the holy, Christian Church.' We don't say that we see those things.
If there are only twelve hours in the day, that's fine with me. I remember hearing that the day, in Jewish time, started with the sunset of the previous day and went until the sunset of the present day. And I also remember hearing that this particular way of designating a day was a good reminder that a day is primarily about what God is doing and not us. It starts with the night, and God is much more active during the night than we are. He's a bit more important in the whole scheme of things.