The narrative of Jesus feeding the five thousand exists in all four Gospels. John, however, provides more detailed information than the Synoptic Gospels. He identifies the Jewish Passover being near, Philip being perplexed over feeding the crowd, Andrew bringing the boy with food to them, the loaves being made out of barely, Jesus handing out food to the crowd, Jesus' providing an answer to gathering the remaining food items, the crowd responding to the miracle, and Jesus' dismissing the crowd and disciples. These features along with omissions of details provided in the Synoptic Gospels indicate that John did not copy from the Synoptic Gospels and had an independent tradition of the Jesus' narrative. In addition to John providing more detail to this miracle, John also establishes a pattern in chapter 5 and 6. This pattern consists of Jesus performing a miracle followed by confrontation with people including Jewish people about his identity and authority.
The differences in John's narrative in feeding the five thousand from the Synoptic Gospels allow for exclusive examination of the events. As previously noted, John provides a reason for the fragments of food being gathered. In verse 12, Jesus declared the reason as nothing should be wasted or lost. The Greek lexicon of the verb used for lost is ἀπόλλυμι. Vine's Expository Dictionary provides three definitions to the verb: 1) destroy, destroyer, destruction, destructive, 2) lose, (suffer) loss, lost, and 3) perish. In context of John, the verb in middle voice translates to perish. Therefore, Jesus' response reveals him not wanting the fragments to perish. His desire for the fragments symbolically can correlate to the desire of not wanting the crowd to perish. In the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the authors identify Jesus possessing compassion for the large crowd. Therefore, it is possible that within this compassion, Jesus not only declares his authority by performing this miracle, but possesses the desire to not see people perish spiritually.
John's account of Jesus feeding the five thousand differs from the Synoptic Gospels. His Gospel addresses an audience where the primary goal attempts to draw those to faith in Jesus being the Christ and the Son of God.