Having hung on the cross, Christ then died on “Good Friday”. Taken from the cross and placed in a tomb, He remained there throughout the balance of Friday and through what is termed “Holy Saturday”, before emerging in glorious resurrection on the morning of the third day, “Easter Sunday”.
So the purpose of a Tenebrae service is to mark the beginning of Christ’s sufferings for the redemption of all mankind. Thus, the word “Tenebrae” is Latin for "darkness". The service itself is characterized by a succession of candles being extinguished until the worship center is left completely dark, thereby symbolizing how the light of the world was extinguished in death as a full and complete sacrifice for the sins of all men and women.
For me, the most significant part of the service is when the red drape on the cross is removed and replaced with a black one. That is powerful imagery.
Take a look at the four crosses below…
By “Maundy Thursday”, the same crowd who had hailed him as king now shouted “Crucify Him!” Thus the cross is draped in red. On “Good Friday”, the drape is changed to black, signifying Jesus’ death. And then, of course, on “Easter Sunday” morning, the drape becomes white, boldly declaring the resurrection of our Lord and Savior as well as His full and complete victory over sin, over death, and over Hell!
Think about it. When next we see Him, Our Lord and Savior will be wearing white! And He will snatch us away to be with Him in that place He has now gone to prepare for us! There will we be with Him forever!
No wonder the Apostle John was compelled to conclude his Apocalypse with these wonderful, wonderful words (Revelation 22:20 KJV): “Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus”!