A perennial issue about the teachings of Jesus is his relationship to the Law, and it comes up in ordinary church life today: What is our relationship to the Law? Some say, “God’s Word. We follow it.” But it’s not that easy since no one practices the laws of Leviticus today completely. So, it’s good to see what Benedict XVI has to say.
There is a brief discussion here — in essence, Jesus fulfills the Law by bringing an excess of righteousness. (He got close to moving into imputation issues, but didn’t.) Jesus brings a New Torah. And here the Pope explores a topic that occupies his attention the rest of the chp and throughout the book: Christology. The “I” of the antitheses puts Jesus in the place of God.
The rest of the chp explores how Jacob Neusner, in his A Rabbi Talks with Jesus, came to the conclusion that Jesus does things with the Torah that break the boundaries of Judaism. It could be said that Neusner witnesses to an exalted christology shaping how Jesus treated the Torah, and this exalted christology is for him (Neusner is a Jew) unacceptable.
Torah now consists in following Jesus, which breaks down Torah and the community the Torah is designed to create. He examines Sabbath (Jesus says “I will give you rest”), 4th Commandment on parents and family (Jesus creates a new family), and compromise and prophetic radicalism (the redemptive trend of the OT — my words, but Benedict XVI is very similar — charts the path for Jesus’ own radicalism). There is the pattern of a “necessary historical evolution” of God’s will as practiced in the world.
All in all, then, the Torah of the Messiah becomes a Torah of following the Messiah. Jesus is neither liberal nor rebel; he is the interpreter of the Torah as the Messiah.