CLAIM: In Luke 1:32-33, the angel Gabriel told Mary, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” In other words, Gabriel told her that Jesus was the Messiah. However, in Luke 2:50, we read that Jesus’ parents “did not understand the statement which He had made to them” about being the son of God. How could they not know this, if an angel had appeared to them?
RESPONSE: I think we need to give Joseph and Mary a break on this. In this point of the narrative, Joseph and Mary had just lost their twelve year old son in a large crowd at Pentecost (v.43) for three days (v.46). After finding him, Mary frantically asked a pre-teen Jesus why he had treated them this way (v.48). In response to this question, Jesus said, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” (v.49).
It is in this context that they were confused. In other words, they were asking Jesus where he had been for three days, and he told them that he was in his Father’s house. As the parent of a missing kid, would you understand this statement, either? While they knew he was supposed to be the Messiah, they didn’t understand why he was responding to their question in this way. Moreover, the angel had spoken to them over a decade ago, and this probably wasn’t fresh on their mind. While the reader had just read this comment a chapter earlier, Joseph and Mary had heard this comment a decade earlier.