God the Father appointed his Son Jesus to become a high priest for us in glory. Indeed, Jesus is in glory right now — as both Man and God — on our behalf. He is arrayed in the garments of a high priest and stands before the Father interceding for us.
No doubt the Father takes great pleasure in having his Son at his right hand, but the Bible does not say Jesus ascended for the sake of his Father. Nor does it say he ascended to regain his glory. No, Scripture says Christ ascended to heaven on our behalf as a high priest. “Christ … entered … into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).
John caught a glimpse of Jesus in his ministry as our High Priest in glory. He writes that Jesus appeared in the midst of seven candlesticks, representing his church, and ministered among them wearing a particular garb: “Clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” (Revelation 1:13).
Exodus 30 gives us a wonderful picture of the ministry of the tabernacle and the high priest. An altar made of gold stood just before the entrance to the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. Incense was placed on the altar and burned at all times. Aaron, the high priest, took care of the lamps and wicks every morning and every night. Throughout all of Israel’s wilderness journeys, the golden altar filled the Holy Place with a cloud of sweet incense and the fragrance was constantly rising to heaven (see Exodus 30:7-8).
In the Bible, incense represents prayer and the ever-burning incense on that altar in the Holy Place represents the prayers of Jesus while he was on earth. Jesus prayed constantly — in the morning and evening, in solitude, in the mountains. John 17 is all about Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and his people who followed him and believed in him, yet he also prayed for those “who will believe in Me” (17:20). What a powerful truth—Jesus’ words include you and me. He was praying for us even when he walked this earth in the flesh.
Beloved, this prayer that Jesus prayed for us did not vanish into thin air. It has been burning on God’s altar all this time and God accepts his Son’s prayers for each of us. Our conversion, our salvation, is the result of Jesus’ prayers. Hallelujah!