Jesus and the Pharisees argued over his disciples’ plucking of grain on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-8). Instead of minimizing the seriousness of what his disciples were doing, Jesus actually magnified it, comparing it to the example of David’s eating holy bread in 1 Samuel 21, but insisting that “something greater than the temple is here” (Matt. 12:6). Thus, weekly communion: to sit at a full table is to enjoy the blessings of the new covenant, but to sit at an empty table is to taste the relative impoverishment of the old covenant, and to side in a small way with the Pharisees, who wished to keep such blessings behind walls of partition.
Paul teaches us that Peter’s failure to eat together with Gentiles was “not in step with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). Thus, weekly communion: if failing to eat together is such, failure to eat together at all is likewise a removal of our experience of the “one body” (1 Cor. 10-11) that is brought about by the gospel and is so inextricably connected to table fellowship.
It was to the Corinthians’ shame that their divisive practice of the Lord’s supper was so far removed from this truth of the one body brought about by the gospel that “when you come together, it is not [even] the Lord’s supper that you eat” (1 Cor. 11:20). Thus, weekly communion: if it is a shame to try to share the supper and fall short, it is equally a shame not even to try.
David sought out Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth and honored him, so that Mephibosheth “ate always at the king’s table” (2 Sam. 9:13). Thus, weekly communion: if it is to David’s great credit and glory that Mephibosheth ate always at his table, it is to Jesus’s shame if we should eat only sometimes at his.
Whether we share communion or not on any given week, something is nonetheless being shown forth about the kind of table Jesus sets for his people, and the kind of welcome he gives to that table.