Scripture Reference John 18:19-24
The laws governing Jesus’ case were broken so many times. It is difficult to see how the trial could have been more illegally run or the laws of Israel are seen in a scornful act.
This is seen in the three separate errors committed
(1) The arrest was by night.
(2) The arrest was achieved through the agency of a traitor and informer.
(3) The arrest was without the necessary basis of a specific and formal accusation of wrongdoing later to be presented to the court.
The above statements should have given rise to immediate acquittal of Jesus. Even though the rest of the events were legal, these facts would still point to end of the whole process. This is easily seen in today’s laws concerning acquittal. The arresting officer has neglected to inform the suspect of his rights, a confession was coerced, evidence was gathered by illegal entry or seizure. Some other illegal act done.
The matter of trial by night is quite clear. It was an established and inflexible rule that proceedings in capital cases could not be conducted at night. Moreover, this restriction did not apply merely to the trial itself. The events leading up to it must be taken under consideration. This means the arrest. The arrest was after dark. The arresting crowd arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane with “torches, lanterns and weapons. John 18:3.
The law, which bears upon the role of Judas in the arrest is derived from Leviticus 19:16. In the most simplest terms, it says “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.” A witness had to be of good character. The individual could not bear witness against a close companion, friend, or relative. The individual was forbidden to take a bribe. This person could not be an accessory or accomplice. Judas is all of these. It was illegal for him to be used in the manner that he was.
When viewed in the United States, the testimony of an accomplice is admissible, but it must be corroborated at some points by other testimony if it is to stand. When used for the purpose of securing a conviction, it is clear that the use of accomplice testimony, it is of great value. A man named Chandler speaks of this statement. “The arrest of Jesus was ordered upon the supposition that he was a criminal; this same supposition would have made Judas, who had aided, encouraged, and abetted Jesus in the propagation of his faith an accomplice. Jesus was innocent. His arrest was an outrage, and therefore illegal. [Chandler, Trial of Jesus, vol. 1, 229]
The third illegal aspect of the arrest was the lack of a formal accusation on the basis of which the later trial was to be conducted. Legally speaking, Judas should have made that accusation to the authorities in advance of the arrest and then have appeared in court to sustain it. This was not fulfilled. The opening part of the trial was a nearly unsuccessful attempt to find precisely this accusation.